Friday, July 7, 2017

Interactive map showing home price data

WBEZ91.5 Chicago is doing some of the best research and mapping that I see in the Chicago region so I encourage you to visit their web site, Facebook page and other links and find ways to  use these tools in  your own communications.

Here's map/article that shows home prices in metro areas around the US.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Why I Created Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Why I Still Lead it.

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975 while holding a full time retail advertising job at the Montgomery Ward corporate headquarters in Chicago.  I used many of my advertising skills to support a volunteer based that grew from 100 to 300 between 1975 and 1992, then to support fund raising in the years since then.

Over the years I saw many media stories talking about violence in Chicago, and editorials saying "we need to do something" but no strategies similar to how the corporate office supports hundreds of stores located all over the country.

In late 1992 while forming a new non profit to serve 7th-to-12th grade kids who were aging out of the original program, I and the six other volunteers who were helping me, decided to fill the leadership void that I'd seen over the previous 17 years. We created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, to help volunteer-based programs like the one I had led, and the new one I was forming, get the resources needed to grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of the Chicago region.  All of the ideas and information on my blogs and web sites, created since 1993, focus on that goal.

I signed up to take part in the summer 2017 Connected Learning #clmooc group activities, and added myself to their member map today. I first joined this group in 2013 and over the past four years I've developed some strong idea-sharing relationships with people from different parts of the country and the world as a result.

Village cMap
I’ve been trying for the past 20 years to build this type of learning community, connecting all of those who are concerned with the gap between rich and poor in America, the education system, workforce diversity, social justice, violence, public health, and a number of other reasons to be involved. Some people talk about the "village" it takes to raise kids. I write about it and try to bring members of the village together.

As I wrote above, I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975 (see history) while I held a full time job with the Montgomery Ward company. While our program grew to include over 300 pairs of youth and volunteers by 1990, funding was not an issue because all of the leaders were volunteers.

However, in 1990 when I converted this program to a 501-c-3 non profit and needed to raise money to pay salaries for myself and others to stay involved, the funding of non profits began to become a real issue. Over the years I’ve aggregated a wide range of personal frustration on the challenges small non profits face in finding consistent operating funds, and I’ve built a library of articles that show how others think on this topic.

I illustrate my thinking visually so let me show some maps that I think many of you will find interesting, and useful.

This is a map showing nearly 400 foundation (corporate and private) in the Chicago region and Eastern part of the United States who I put on my mailing list between 1993 and 2005.

Every year I send copies of my printed newsletters to these people, showing why tutor/mentor programs were needed and what I was doing as a direct service provider, and as leader of the intermediary Tutor/Mentor Connection.

The green icons on the map are foundations that funded my organization at least one time. Few funded me more than 2-3 years in a row. Some, like Montgomery Ward, funded me for seven consecutive years, then went out of business, and thus were not able to continue their support. None of the grants was larger than $50,000 and most were in the $1,000 to $10,000 per year range. Some were for general operating expenses, which I could use flexibly to build the organization, while many focused specifically on activities of the Cabrini Connections direct service program or the Tutor/Mentor Connection. In total I raised more than $6 million between 1993 and 2011, with a peak of $500,000 in 2000. This money split with 40% funding the Cabrini Connections direct service program, 40% the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and 20% funding operating and fundraising expenses. With no multi-year commitments, each year since about 1998 I started from zero in raising $300 to $400,000 from a wide range of donors.

This map shows a close up of the Chicago region so you can get a better sense of how many foundations I was reaching out to.

My organization never had more than 3 or 4 people on staff, and never had a full time professional development officer. I was CEO, chief innovator, chief marketing officer, newsletter writer, grant writer, janitor. Yet every year I was challenged to write letters of introduction, letters of inquiry, grant requests, grant reports, each with different requirements and different questions.

Yet we all were focused on helping expand the network of non-school hours support for inner city kids. By 1998 I was using web sites to show the work I was doing and what I was trying to do.

This map shows the Chicago LOOP area.

When I begin using maps I started following media stories about kids being killed in Chicago with maps showing where this was happening, and with links showing what tutor/mentor programs were operating in those areas, and what knowledge was available to community leaders, business and foundations, etc., so they would work to build programs that would provide more mentoring, tutoring and learning opportunities in more places.
In 2008 the T/MC created a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator with maps that show where tutor/mentor programs are needed, and other maps showing banks, hospitals, universities and faith groups who are spread in different parts of the city, and who could be supporting the growth of programs in each of these areas.

I keep asking myself, "Why haven’t leaders in these foundations use my maps, or similar directories, to adopt neighborhoods, then adopt tutor/mentor programs in those neighborhoods and make long-term commitments to help each program become the best in the world by borrowing ideas from each other and using a constant flow of operating/innovation dollars and volunteer talent to implement these ideas?"   No good answers to that question.

Here’s an interactive version of the map of foundations. You can enlarge the map and zoom in and see the name and location of each. Some no longer exist since this list was last updated in 2005. 

With more than 200 youth serving organizations in Chicago offering various forms of tutoring, mentoring and non-school support, we can have 200 development officers and/or Executive Directors reaching through this list to find foundations who will give them funds each year, which is a tremendous redundancy.

Or we can build strategies that educate and motivate donors and business partners to reach out and build proactive support systems for tutor/mentor programs in neighborhoods that need such programs.

I'm no longer hosting the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, due to lack of funding. However, these could be started again, or we could build an on-line conversation, similar to the CLMOOC community, if partners and sponsors stepped forward to help.

This and other articles show why I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I still lead it, through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC because no one else has created a similar 4-part strategy with the same aim at supporting the growth of mentor-rich non-school learning programs in all of the high poverty areas of Chicago.

We can do both. We can do better.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

ESRI solution templates for local government

ESRI has created a set of map templates that local governments can use to tackle the Opioid Epidemic and other public health issues. They are shown on this page.

This same set of tools, or ones similar to it, could be used to identify existing non-school tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region and draw support to each of them. That's what Tutor/Mentor Connection has been trying to do with GIS maps since 1994. I've never had the talent and resources that companies like ESRI have to do this work.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Example of using maps to connect communities & reach more places

Since 2013 I've participated in several on-line events and some have used Google maps to show participant locations.  

I started creating maps to show participation in Tutor/Mentor Conferences in the mid 2000s.

Thus, I was pleased to find this interactive map on the Our Revolution political organizing web site.

You can zoom into the map, to the zip code level, and click on the icons to find out what group this represents and how to get connected.

I've posted articles about the #onthetable event hosted the past four years by the Chicago Community Trust and suggested that they create a map like this to show people hosting their informal meetings and another to show locations of participants, as part of an evaluation process and also as part of an organizing effort intended, as Our Revolution does, to keep people working with each other to understand and solve problems important to the Chicago region, or the nation.

If you've examples of maps being used this way feel free to post a link in the comment section.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

U.S. Census Bureau - Learn to Use Its Data

This is a screen shot from a page on the web site, which makes U.S. Census Bureau data easily available.

This was just one of many resources that I learned about during last night's Chicago City Data User Group (#CCDUG) meeting at the Microsoft headquarters in Chicago.

Other resources were shared by participants in the MeetUP, using the #CCDUG  hashtag. Browse this thread and you can find more links.

I posted to Twitter my own long-term vision of sharing map-based data with this type of sophistication.

A couple of other links that were shared are:

The Space Informatics Lab (SIL) at the University of Cincinnati - click here

Census Explorer - click here

Census Business Builder - Regional Analysis Version - click here

Census Business Builder - Small Business Addition - click here

Below is a pdf created in 2009 to show how to use the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator to create map stories. The program locator is now out of date and needs updating. Imagine what I could do if I had the talent and resources to apply some of the mapping tools shown above to the work I've been trying to do since 1993.

If you can imagine this, and you understand the need and opportunity, and you have either the talent or the dollars, why don't you reach out and offer your help?  This can apply to any city in the world, so you can be located in any city and work with me via Skype or other on-line tools.  Let's connect.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Building a "Fellowship" on the Web.

Last week I posted this article, with a TED talk presented by Steve Whitla, based in the UK.  Today Steve sent me a Tweet, pointing me to a thoughtful article he'd written, in response to my article. He focused on the three challenges I'd offered in my article, and expanded on them from his own perspective.

I  hope you'll take time to read it.

1)  Challenges of Making Maps - Steve recognizes a truth that I've understood for many years.  In the past I've had people question the value of the maps I've created, saying people in poor areas don't have access to the technology to view the maps. I said, "I know.  I'm trying to reach the people who don't live in poor areas who have the resources to make technology and access to my maps available to people in poor neighborhoods, and who will help me collect the data, build the maps, and train people to use them."  In Steve's article these would be the "Gentry" who supported map-making in the middle ages.

2) The Challenge of Motivating Growing Numbers of People to look at the maps.  I love the reference to Bilbo, from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I've read the series several times.  My graphic above draws from another fantasy series, the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. In both books a small group of people band together to save the world.  In both books the 'hero' was a reluctant 'hero'.  I never sought the role I'm in. It grew on me over many years.   In Steve's article, he focuses on the 5% of people in an organization who might already be interested in an idea.  My efforts have focused on the same 5%, or even 1%, of people in the world who might be interested in the work I'm doing. That's like looking for a needle in the universe!  Yet, that's how I connected with Steve.

I created this concept map to show the different skills and networks I'm trying to bring into my fellowship.  I first used the Wheel of Time graphic in 2011, in this article.

3) The Role of Network Builder, Facilitator and Teacher.  In Steve's article he writes "If we're all looking a the same map, then we have a much more meaningful conversation."  That's what I think, too, but it takes us back to Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

I've used this pyramid graphic often since the mid 1990s, such as in this article.  I've created a library of concept maps, that support the GIS maps. Steve's blog is full of visualizations.  If more people spend time trying to understand these, when we get together we are closer to a common frame of reference.

In my case, I feel that we all want kids to go safely through school and enter jobs and careers as contributing members of society. However, if someone is not doing the work at the bottom of the pyramid, of creating a map-based information system, it's hard to have a 'meaningful conversation' about actions each of us needs to take to make that support system available in all places where kids need extra help.

If people are not motivated to spend time looking at these articles, and our maps, our meetings lack the common understanding and frame of reference needed. Back to Challenge 2.

Final Challenge - Remaining Neutral - Steve added this since I did not mention it in my original article.  I think that if the data on the maps is accurate, anyone can use the map to develop strategies that support a common vision.  In articles on this blog I point to many data platforms, not just the interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and maps the Tutor/Mentor Connection has created. Keeping the maps updated and accurate goes back to Challenge 1, which is finding the talent and resources to do this.

Another Challenge - Overcoming "Not Invented Here".  Over the 24 years that I've been doing this work, too many have started their own "fellowships", drawing support from political, business and civic leaders. Too few, like almost none, have reached out to say "What can I learn from your experiences? Or, "How can I help you?"   Here's one of several articles that focus on this challenge.

One more. It seems to me that Steve is writing about challenges within organizations, where there are many different power bases and hidden agendas. I'm writing about the challenge of mobilizing people from many different organizations and sectors of society - the village of people who need to take roles in raising kids and helping them move to productive adult lives.  They also have power bases and hidden agendas. They don't have the structure, and pay check, provided by corporations, which offer some motivation for people to work together.

That makes this even more difficult.

I can't express how pleased I was that Steve took time to read my original article and reflect on it on his blog. I've encouraged others to do the same, and created this concept map as a way to connect those people and their articles with each other.  I added a link to Steve's blog today.   In some ways, the people I point to are "companions" who I've been able to attract and connect in my own on-going efforts to have a positive impact on the world I live in.

I invite other readers to join us.